- Title: UK: Riders warm up for the start of the Tour de France cycle race in London.
- Date: 7th July 2007
- Summary: RIDERS CYLCING PAST TEAM TRUCK
- Embargoed: 22nd July 2007 13:00
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVAB2UH9VZJXD1WJOGI33S1TF2YY
- Story Text: Riders check the route for 'Le Grand Depart' as the Tour de France starts for the first time froM London where the winner will get the yellow jersey.
Traffic was closed in central London on Saturday (July 7) for the prologue of the Tour de France prologue along a 7.9 kilometre route.
The time trial starts at Trafalgar Square and passes Buckingham Palace, Westminster and Hyde Park before finishing in The Mall.
Spectators were showing their support for British riders Bradley Wiggins and David Millar. Wiggins was tipped to clock the fastest time but the London-born rider is expected to face tough competition from Millar of the Saunier-Duval team.
The Scot, who won the Tour's prologue in 2000 and returned to cycling last year after a two-year doping ban, is a serious contender along with Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara and American David Zabriskie.
Wiggins, 27, is in top form having won the prologue at last month's prestigious Dauphine Libere and could give his hometown fans a memorable introduction to the sport's premier race.
CSC rider Zabriskie, a winner of the Tour's prologue in 2005, will be out to spoil the British party.
Time-trial world champion Cancellara took the Tour de Suisse opening stage against the clock, but recent back trouble could yet hamper his progress.
American George Hincapie of the Discovery Channel team, second last year in Strasbourg, could also cause an upset should the favourites fail to shine.
All the riders on the start list have signed the UCI's anti-doping charter and will be allowed to take part in Saturday's prologue.
The charter includes promises to submit DNA samples to Spanish authorities investigating the Puerto affair 15 months after a blood-doping scandal erupted in Spain.
The document also asks cyclists to pledge a year's salary if they test positive for a banned substance.
Two years to the day after 52 people were killed in attacks on three underground trains and a bus, 5,000 police officers were deployed along the course.
With 2006 winner Floyd Landis of the United States and other top riders involved in doping allegations, this year's race starts without the defending champion, opening the route for others.
Briton Mark Cavendish is the bright, young hope for T-Mobile in the Tour de France as the team recovers from doping revelations by former riders.
The 22-year-old sprinter is being touted as a stage winner on this year's Tour in his debut season as a pro. He has already notched six wins, including two stage victories in his first ProTour race, the Tour of Catalunya.
Cycling has persistently struggled to overcome doping scandals over the last few years.
The most recent involved 1996 Tour champion Bjarne Riis, who rode for T-Mobile's predecessor Team Telekom and admitted using performance enhancing substances during his career.
Former T-Mobile rider Erik Zabel, now with Team Milram, also confessed to previously using a banned drug.
The prologue winner will get the yellow jersey for the first stage from London to Canterbury on Sunday (July 8).
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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